Tuesday, April 22

on homeschooling :: year in review :: spelling.

Bryan and I first started to seriously contemplate homeschooling Audrey a little over a year ago.
We had talked about it here and there throughout her toddler and preschool years,
but the desire to actually do it had never gone past the talking stages.
Throughout her kindergarten year and the first part of her 1st grade year it became increasingly apparent to us that something had to give.
I have a hard time saying that Audrey is (or was) "gifted" or "talented", but it was obvious that she had at least had a HUGE head start, educationally, in preschool.
Neither one of us had the desire to take her out of school in the middle of the year,
as we didn't want to bounce her between home and public school,
so we started looking into "afterschooling".
Basically this came down to me getting some workbooks, that she could do at home, that were more along the lines of what she needed to be able to continue to advance educationally.
We only did this in a few basic subjects, one being spelling.

Ever since she was little Audrey has loved to read.
I remember reading  Goodnight Moon and Dr. Seuss's ABC book to her over and over and over again when she was a toddler.
At 3 1/2 years old she started going to the Montessori preschool that I taught at, and there she learned how to read.
I was SO impressed with the way she was taught and how quickly she picked up this skill.
That being said, by the time she got to Kinder, she was way beyond the normal sight words that they sent home (it, is, at, etc.).
And I'm thinking because she spent so much time with her nose in books, she pretty much completely skipped phonetic spelling.
Every once in awhile she would spell something the way it sounded, but most of the time she was dead on with the correct spelling, even in harder words.
Because of this, I knew that one of the things we needed to do at home was work on advancing her reading and writing skills.
Thankfully, because she naturally loves to read and write so much, there was never an issue in getting her to do the work.

So, I did a little research and found a curriculum that looked somewhat promising and after looking at some sample pages online, decided to order the 2nd grade level book, as it seemed to be a good starting point for her.
The curriculum that we've been using for the last year is Spelling Workout.
We started out on Level B, which she quickly worked through.

Basically the curriculum is separated into 36 lessons, with a review being placed every sixth lesson.
And each lesson has a specific spelling "rule" that the list words abide by, such as -- different vowel sounds, prefixes, suffixes, consonant blends, vowel digraphs, compound words, contractions, etc.
Level B started out with 15 list words in every lesson.
To figure out how well she  knew the list words ahead of time, we'd start by giving her a quick written quiz.
Then each lesson has three workpages which include various activities.
We'd end each lesson with a final "test" of the list words.
My original goal was just to do 1 or 2 lessons a week,
but we honestly moved much faster than that, solely because Audrey could and wanted to.

By June of last year, as she was finishing up her 1st grade school year, we were moving on to the next level, C, which is 3rd grade work.

While doing this I was also sure to start increasing the difficulty level of some of the books she was reading, considering that during her last reading test of the school year she was placed at an advanced 4th grade/early 5th grade reading level.
She would pick some books from the library, picture books and easier chapter books, and I would pick out a few chapter books that I felt were more on par with her actual reading level.

In October of last year, two months after the "official" start of her 2nd grade year, and our first year homeschooling, we moved on to Level D, 4th grade.

Since then, I've done my best to slow down her completion of the material.
We've added in dictionary work, sentence work, and still do the pre-quiz and final test. 
Her word lists are now comprised of 20 words and the most that she has ever gotten wrong on a pre-quiz is 4. 
And by the time, the final test comes around that total is dropped to 1, or in most cases, 0.
Her list words in this last book have included --barrel, straight, independent, cheerfully, alphabet, knuckle, remembered, surprising, beginning, petrified, measure, perceives, restaurant, disappoint, communities, handkerchiefs, immovable, disinterested, , and cautious, among many others.

One of the ways that I've also helped her increase her reading skills is by adding in mini book reports.
I felt that along with her being able to read the words, she also needed to understand them.
By having her draw a little picture and write a small paragraph, I'm helping to ensure that she's also actually comprehending what she's reading.
She's expected to do this for every chapter book she reads and every curriculum based piece of literature she reads.
It takes her less than 15 minutes, but I've already seen the benefits from this exercise.
As an added bonus, she now comes to me when she has a question about the way something is happening in a book, or if she needs help in understanding how a specific word is being used.

As far as what the future holds for this subject, I am pretty happy with the results Spelling Workout have given us, so I will probably continue on with this curriculum for the next school year.
Before we move on though, we'll most likely go through a review period where we go over the different spelling "rules" that she has learned, just to make sure it's good and ingrained in her head. :)

If you're at all curious to read other posts in this series, just click on the following links.

Thanks for reading!!

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